Monday, January 22, 2018
News Roundup

Romano — Man on the stage: Still supports Trump, still loves Amy Schumer

From a distance, it looked like the man had second thoughts about outing himself as a Donald Trump supporter at Sunday's Amy Schumer show.

Sitting in Row 2 directly in front of the comedian's microphone, David Pettinato's arm kept going up and down as Schumer scoured the crowd for Trump fans.

But it wasn't a lack of faith or conviction that made Pettinato seem so indecisive.

It was his wife Dara, tugging his arm back down every time he tried to raise it up.

Schumer had already dismissed one potential volunteer because he was wearing a T-shirt. The unstated inference was she wanted someone of at least reasonable intelligence.

Pettinato, a Tampa attorney who had bought tickets to the show as a present for his wife, was among one of the last volunteers still willing to go through with the potential abuse even as his wife shouted no. Schumer pointed him out, and he headed to the stage.

"I started thinking, 'Oh my God, will I be able to make a coherent point?' '' Pettinato recalled.

• • •

His time in the spotlight was awkward and brief, but certainly notable. The New York Times, Vanity Fair, TMZ, the Washington Post, Billboard, Time, and Britain's Daily Mail have all carried either stories or the grainy cellphone video of Pettinato's 90-second comedy debut.

Predictably enough, the incident has been hailed as a victory by both Trump and Hillary Clinton acolytes on social media. The Clinton people gleefully quote Schumer ridiculing the GOP candidate. Trump fans point out that 200 people in a crowd of more than 8,000 walked out when Schumer got political.

As for the man on the stage?

"I've got no hard feelings,'' Pettinato said. "She did what she needed to do for her comedy and for her beliefs. I'm not hurt, I'm not upset. She's very funny. She's cute. I know a lot of her comedy is self-deprecating, but I think she's a beautiful person.''

If you haven't seen the video, Schumer wanted a Trump voter to explain why they were supporting a candidate she clearly despises. For her purposes, Pettinato, 56, turned out to be the wrong choice.

Instead of praising Trump, he said his stance had more to do with opposing Clinton. Schumer tried to draw out more details on Trump, but abruptly dismissed Pettinato when he returned to Clinton.

"I appreciate that,'' Schumer said as Pettinato left the stage. "That was just cool to hear why one guy, who doesn't seem like a psychopath, might want to vote for that orange, sexual-assaulting, fake college-starting monster.''

Pettinato, who is a lifelong Republican but says he has voted Democrat in the last seven presidential elections, said it was clear Schumer was hoping for a rabid Trump fan she could poke fun at. His distaste for Clinton, he said, is based on her scrubbing of emails after a congressional subpoena.

"As an attorney, if I did that, I would be in jail today,'' he said.

Pettinato has since gotten calls from Trump supporters at his office, and his wife has gotten blowback from Clinton fans on Facebook. It's been a little more heated than he would prefer, but it's nothing he hasn't experienced before.

"I've got a 15-year-old daughter who yells at me when I'm listening to news radio in the car,'' he said. "She says, 'How can you even think about voting for Trump?' ''

As for Schumer, he says she's now his celebrity crush.

Much like Schumer talks about actor Bradley Cooper being her fake boyfriend after a chance encounter with him, Pettinato said Schumer is his new dream date.

"I have no regrets, it was an enjoyable experience,'' he said. "Amy is my Bradley Cooper.''


The Daystarter: Women’s March returns to St. Petersburg; PolitiFact Florida analyzes prison costs; Free dental clinic services in high demand; Arrrrr you ready for Gasparilla?

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• We’ll have a mild and sunny start to the week, with highs in the upper 70s, according to 10Weather WTSP. A weak cold front brings a chance of rain on Tuesday and slightly coo...
Updated: 8 hours ago
PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

PolitiFact Florida: Claims about prison price-gouging decry $17 soup, $18 tampons

Advocates of Florida prisoners protested outside of the Florida Department of Corrections in Tallahassee on Tuesday, demanding answers to questions of alleged price-gouging in prisons across the state.Protesters from dozens of grass roots organizatio...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Hooper: Deal with sea-level rise or prepare to be inundated

When fans again flock to Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard for the annual Gasparilla Festival on Saturday, I hope they ask a question: Will the floats need flotation devices in 2035?Erika Spanger-Siegfried, Astrid Caldas and Kate Cell, members of the Union ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

Add swagger to Lightning’s loss column

CHICAGO — It didn’t take the sound of a door slamming in the visitor’s dressing room Saturday night to sense this Lightning team is frustrated.Tampa Bay believed it had worked hard against the Wild — at least, harder than it did in Thursday’s letharg...
Updated: 5 hours ago

nationResearchers work to avoid another 1918 super-flu The descriptions are haunting. Some victims felt fine in the morning and were dead by night. Faces turned blue as patients coughed up blood. Stacked bodies outnumbered coffins. A century after on...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Hillsborough diver who died in Eagle’s Nest Cave was adventurous but experienced

Davin Brannon was a pilot, a spearfisherman, an avid cave and open-water diver and an experienced all-around adventurer, said those close to him ."I guess you could say he died doing what he loved," his cousin Pam Kirven said. "But I also know he’d n...
Updated: 6 hours ago
‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

‘Three Billboards’ sweeps female-focused SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES — The Western-inspired revenge tale Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri swept the female-focused and led Screen Actors Guild Awards Sunday with wins for best ensemble, best actress for Frances McDormand and best supporting actor for...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Shutdown opens week

Shutdown opens week

Associated PressWASHINGTON — The government shutdown will extend into the workweek as the Senate appeared to inch closer to ending a partisan stalemate late Sunday but fell short of agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Democratic...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

Record number of inmates died in Florida prisons last year. And they died younger than past years.

More inmates died in Florida prisons last year than in any other year on record, leaving the state scrambling to identify causes and find solutions. The tally, 428 inmate deaths in 2017, was released late Friday by the Florida Department of Correctio...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Oxfam highlights sharp inequality as Davos elite gather

DAVOS, Switzerland — A CEO from one of the world’s top five global fashion brands has to work for just four days to earn what a garment worker in Bangladesh will earn in an entire lifetime, campaigning group Oxfam International said Monday. In advanc...
Updated: 8 hours ago